What a difference a year makes.
On the eve of the anniversary of Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the 2016 presidential election, Democrats in Virginia, New Jersey, and elsewhere notched a surprisingly robust round of victories Tuesday night in elections that have been widely interpreted as a referendum on the Trump presidency and a potential augur of the 2018 elections.
The results in Virginia, where the prospects of gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam gave Democrats severe heartburn over the last week, were particularly surprising: Not only did Northam coast to victory over Ed Gillespie, a Republican who had embraced the Trump message if not the president himself, but Democrats won legislative races across the Old Dominion, putting control of the House of Delegates—not generally expected to be up for grabs—within Democratic grasp. Bob Marshall, a particularly outspoken anti-LGBT conservative, was defeated by Danica Roem, who becomes the first openly transgender legislator in state and U.S. history.
But other results also confirmed the trend. In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy won as expected over Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, a Republican who was dragged down by deeply unpopular incumbent Chris Christie. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Democrat Vi Lyles cruised to victory over Republican Kenny Smith. In Maine, a referendum on expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, against the governor’s wishes, was headed for a lopsided victory. In Georgia, Democrats won two special elections for legislative seats, adding to a trend of strong special-election performances. The wave of Democratic victories comes a year late for the party, but late is better than never.